Thinking about using an Asus Google Chromebit to power your digital signage experience? Here’s everything you need to know…
UPDATE 21/03/19 : Google have recently made a change which will mean that new Chrome OS devices will not support unmanaged kiosk mode. You will need a Chrome subscription license for each of your Chrome devices to run your them in kiosk mode. Without this, you will not have access to Google's Chrome Enterprise tools, which you now need in order to set up an app like ScreenCloud to run in kiosk mode. If you need a Chrome license you can purchase this through our partner Promevo.
We’ve previously spoken about the Google Chromecast and how easy it is to set up, yet how limited some of its features can be (and at around $35 you certainly don’t want to be wasting your money). A good alternative is the Amazon Fire TV Stick which as we’ve mentioned previously, starts at around $5 more than the Chromecast but supports the use of apps which allow you to run anything from social media to digital signage, RSS and news feeds. But what if you’re looking to use or purchase an Asus Chromebit to power up your digital signage displays? If you are looking for a device with more business features like remote device management, easy enrollment for multiple devices and more, then the Chromebit coupled with Google’s Chrome Enterprise tools could be your best option as a "plug and play" solution.
Here, we discuss the pros and cons and how to get your digital signage up and running using your screen, a Chromebit and ScreenCloud’s powerful range of apps.
If your screen has an HDMI port (and let’s face it, most of them do) then you can use the Asus Chromebit. The Chromebit starts at around $85 and is effectively a mini computer that allows you to run Chrome OS on a screen or anything else you plug it into.
It’s a small device (weighing 75 grams) that plugs into the HDMI port and gives you access to all that Chrome OS has to offer, including a fast and smooth experience, automatic and regular OS updates and support for Chrome OS apps.
When using a Chromebit for digital signage, we recommend running the ScreenCloud app in kiosk mode. Kiosk mode allows you to run a single app and lock it down so no one can interfere with it. Also, if there's a power failure or the app crashes for some reason, the device will auto launch the app again. It's perfect for digital signage and very useful if you're using the screen in a public area.
In order to use the ScreenCloud app in kiosk mode you will need to get access to Google’s Chrome Enterprise tools, which requires paying an annual fee per device for a Chrome license. Having access to Google’s Chrome Enterprise tools comes with a lot of benefits though. Besides being able to use the ScreenCloud app in kiosk mode you’ll also get features like device monitoring and reporting, remote updates, remote device rebooting, device offline notifications and more.
To summarize, the Chromebit is great for setting up digital signage as it’s a truly business ready device, with the features needed to set up a project, safe in the knowledge that managing and monitoring your digital signage devices will be easy. In order to access these features there are some additional costs but we believe they are well worth the value for users who are specifically choosing a Chromebit over similar devices because of its business features and capabilities.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the other pros and cons of using an Asus Chromebit for digital signage:
Getting set up with Chrome Enterprise and Chrome licenses with the correct settings takes a bit of work, but once it’s done, the Chromebit actually becomes really simple to set up. Simply plug your new Chromebit into a screen’s HDMI port and enroll the device by logging in and the ScreenCloud app will download and load in kiosk mode automatically so you can begin showing content within minutes.
Having had the Chromebit running for weeks on end in our studio, we can vouch for its ability to keep content running uninterrupted. It has good heat dissipation even when running video content so you can set your screens up, then leave them to it! Basically, just what you want from a digital signage solution.
The Chromebit has only one USB port, so in order to get set up, format screens and download your digital signage apps, you’ll need to work out a way to connect a keyboard and mouse. The easiest is probably through a bluetooth enabled keyboard and mouse, but if you don’t have these you can use USB extenders and regular versions. (If you’re looking for more of an understanding in how the Chromebit works, we recommend this technical deep-dive into the Chromebit from Sixteen Nine.)
At $85 a device it’s not the cheapest option on the market compared to the Amazon Fire TV Stick or even the Google Chromecast, but it does have longevity and is one of the most robust player options we’ve come across.
Here we talk you through getting your Chromebit set up for running digital signage with ScreenCloud.
When you plug in your new Chromebit one of the first few steps will be to choose and connect to a WiFi network of your choice. Once you’ve done this your WiFi details will be saved so that you’re always connected to the internet.
After following the on-screen instructions like adding your WiFi details you will see a sign-in screen. Hold on - don't sign in yet.
Instead, press Ctrl+Alt+E to go to the enrollment screen and login with an account that is connected to a Chrome license that you will use to enroll your Chromebit in Chrome Enterprise.
Note that you will have to do quite a few steps in order to purchase Chrome licenses and set up Google’s Chrome Enterprise tools. To help you with these steps, our team has created a step-by-step guide which walks you through how to Set up ScreenCloud in Kiosk Mode on a Chrome Device With a Chrome License.
If everything was set up correctly, when you login with your account and enroll your Chromebit the ScreenCloud app will download and load in kiosk mode automatically.
Once the ScreenCloud app has loaded, you’ll see a pairing code that looks a little like the below. Once you have this, open https://signage.screen.cloud/ on your laptop or PC and sign up for a ScreenCloud account.
Once you’ve signed up, you can choose ‘add screen’ from the screen below. Enter your pairing code from the previous step and that’s it! You’re now running content on your screen from your PC or laptop. At this point you can head home to manage your content, check in to a bar or basically go anywhere in the world with your laptop and you’ll still be able to manage what’s shown on screen.
Now you’re in control of what’s showing on your screen you can start adding images, videos, presentations and webpages and incorporating apps such as social media feeds, RSS and news feeds.
Once you’ve added your content of choice, you can then organize it all using the playlist and scheduling tools. Drag and drop different forms of content into one easy-to-assemble playlist and then choose when you want it to show.
In conclusion, the Asus Chromebit is a powerful little signage stick that easily allows you to manage digital signage content (when paired with an app such as ScreenCloud of course).
Bonus point: this is exactly the same for all Chrome devices with Chromebits, Chromeboxes and Chromebooks all working in the same way so it’s easy to get setup across multiple screens and devices.
Sound good? Awesome - sign up for a free trial at ScreenCloud Signage today to give it a whirl!